Florida shakes off injuries to rout Georgia
by David Jones, USA TODAY Sports
GAINESVILLE — Erik Murphy found out Monday he has a fractured rib. His backup, Will Yeguete, had tendinitis flare up and was held out of the starting lineup too.
Ninth-ranked Florida reached down to its third option at forward, Casey Prather. All the junior did was score the first six points of the game, get a steal to lead to the next basket and the Gators scored the first 11 enroute to a 77-44 win against Georgia in the SEC opener for both schools.
Prather didn’t get another basket until late in the second half and finished with 10 points, as one of four Gators in double figures, and a game-high seven rebounds. The sizzling jump-start, though, was what Florida needed most.
Both Murphy and Yeguete still contributed in Wednesday’s game despite injuries, Yeguete spending his free time on the bench with a heating pad on his right knee. But both played well against the struggling Bulldogs (6-8) who did not score until a Vincent Williams layup at the 14:24 mark.
Florida (11-2) is now 8-0 in SEC openers played at home under Billy Donovan. It was the 206th meeting between the schools in a series that started in 1924. The Gators have now won 16 of the last 19 meetings.
After Prather’s sizzling start, guard Mke Rosario — who finished with a game-high 19 points, one shy of his season-best — scored five of the next seven points for Florida and Murphy hit a couple of 3-pointers to make it 19-4 at 8:52.
Florida led 28-15 at the half. Georgia had just five field goals in the first half. The Gators came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 52.7 points per game. UF set a school shot-clock record earlier this season, holding Alabama State to nine points in the first half of an 84-35 win in the Nov. 11 season opener.
The Gators hit five of their first eight 3-point attempts in the second half as the lead ballooned even more — a three by guard Michael Frazier III make it 53-26 … [For more on No. 9 Florida shakes off injuries to rout Georgia in SEC opener, click here.]